Wayne Besen is reporting that several anti-gay/ex-gay organizations are heavily promoting the ManKind Project for its emphasis on finding your masculinity.
This cult-like national program is a $650 weekend boot camp where participants – mostly straight - are greeted by large, intimidating men dressed in dark clothing and faces painted black. During their stay, the men are forced to take cold showers, survive on about four hours sleep, and subsist on very little food. In follow-up meetings, the activities include shaving another man’s face, kidnapping a member of another camp group and changing clothes with other men. The idea is to help them get in-touch with their feelings and uncover and heal deep wounds that are barriers to successful lives.
The alternative publication, The Houston Press, uncovered a letter Michael Scinto wrote to the Madison County Texas sheriff’s office, just prior to committing suicide allegedly as a result of the boot camp. The Scinto family has filed a lawsuit against The ManKind Project, while the deceased man’s letter to the sheriff claims the New Warrior program practiced bizarre rituals that include:
1. Blindfolded walking tours in the nude
2. People blowing sage smoke in his face while 50 or so naked men danced around candles
3. Men sitting in a circle discussing their sexual histories while passing a wooden dildo called “The Cock”
4. Naked men beating cooked chickens with a hammer
In the Houston Press article, the wife of one of the men who attended discussed why her husband eventually rejected the group.
“So, everyone was sitting Indian-style in a big circle in the lodge when the man leading the group said, ‘if you wish, you may reach over and grab your brother’s dick. If your brother doesn’t want your hand there, he can remove it.’ Well, my husband told me he just froze. And, from that point on, he just wanted out.” The ManKind Project called the allegations false and “vindictive.”